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product design

13 May


Highway1 application for fall 2015 is now open

May 13, 2015 | By |

One of the most interesting hardware accelerators Highway1 is currently taking on new applications for the fall of 2015. So if you got a prototype and are looking to get your hardware startup going for real, this is for you.

This call for applications is explicitly open for companies founded outside the US, too – as an ambassador for Highway1, I’m happy to help and talk to you if you’re based in Europe (personally, I’m based in Berlin).

For a quick first glance at the program:

Highway1 is a full-spectrum, hands-on educational program that helps entrepreneurs realize their retail distribution dreams. In exchange for 4-7% equity, Highway1 offers $50,000 in cash in addition to the benefits of our prototyping labs, mentor network, location, and global connections.

It’s a program that caters specifically to early-stage companies building hardware for the long term.

It’s a great team you’d be working with, I highly recommend it.

You can find details on, or just straight to the application details here.

22 Apr


A family of Good Night Lamps

April 22, 2015 | By |

Yesterday I received a box I had been very much looking forward to: My family of Good Night Lamps (GNLamp for short).

If you’re not familiar with GNLamp, it’s a family of connected lamps – if you switch on the big one, the little one(s) light up, no matter where in the world they are. It’s social lighting, and it’s lovely.

Read More

25 Mar


Joining the Highway1 Ambassador Program

March 25, 2015 | By |

Highway1 is one of the best hardware accelerators out there. Part of global producat development and supply chain PCH, Highway1 is focused on early seed stage hardware startups helping them develop their idea from prototype to manufacturable, scalable product.

I’m happy to announce that the good folks over at Highway1 kindly asked me to join as an ambassador alongside an great group of inspiring people. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes open primarily for European startups that might stand to profit from working with Highway1. It’s a great way to help hardware startups get faster from idea to market.

Full disclosure: Highway1 has in the past sponsored and otherwise supported events of mine, like ThingsCon.

04 Sep


Tectonic Shifts #02: Social

September 4, 2014 | By |


Tectonic Shifts is a series of articles on the mega trends that will shape our digital future for years (if not decades) to come.

tl;dr (Executive Summary)

Social – short for Social Media, and a key part of the holy trinity of Social/Mobile/Location-based services – is what happens when users connect: They connect around topics & interest, around products, on platforms, between platforms. It’s ubiquitous conversations as popularized by the Cluetrain Manifesto (2000), and as such maybe one of the oldest (internet-based) tech trends that we still see evolving. Social includes, but goes way beyond platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, and has impacts on everything from customer relations and marketing to business models & business strategy to customer service and product design.


Social is a development of such ridiculous size that quantifying it wouldn’t get us very far. A few pointers as to just how big anyway just for good measure:

  • 74% of adults use social networking sites (Pew Internet 2014)
  • 70% of citizens in Iceland actively use social media, 57% in the UK, 35% in Germany, 64% in Taiwan, 46% in China… (Statista 2014)
  • Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Facebook are als considered “billion dollar companies”.

More important than these numbers is the central role that Social Media has been playing for the last 10-15 years. Used almost synonymously with “the internet”, Social has been the key driver behind the massive user empowerment as well as a whole new way that groups can coordinate online to affect change – politically or in campaigns of more consumption-oriented nature.

What does this mean for society & industries?

Social touches practically all areas of an organization. Marketing & communications, sure. But also customer relationship management and customer service; strategy; product design; product development; internal processes; market research; and many more.

Products and services that smartly leverage Social have a much higher chance to succeed. Those designed without at least consideration for Social are bound to fail in the market. This doesn’t mean everything has to have a Facebook Like button on it, of course. However, not leveraging Social should be a very conscious decisions. There’s almost no internet or media related product that don’t have potential for a Social layer of some sort or another.

Social Media as well as product design with Social elements has been around for more than a decade. It’s a mature field. Don’t do it with amateurs, work with professionals – there’s a whole industry out there. However, be aware that really embracing Social will almost certainly lead to a bias towards more openness and more intense engagement with stakeholder groups inside and outside the organization. Again, set up the infrastructure and team to make and maintain the transition smoothly.

Which industries are expected to be most strongly affected?

Every. Single. One.

The most obvious and direct impact was most certainly seen around communications/marketing, publishing, music & video, as well as campaigning & politics.

If you think your organization or industry isn’t impacted, think again – you’re very likely missing something.

Risks & opportunities


  • Social creates a lot of data points both explicitly (conversations, items shared, etc.) and implicitly (usage data). This means lots of intelligence on user behavior and desires, in other words: market research.
  • New services and products: Social data and the structure associated with it allows for new business models and product ideas.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Social opens new channels and ways to engage with stakeholders (clients, customers, users, current and potential employees, collaborators, media, etc.)



  • Privacy implications are huge. Don’t be a creep.
  • Implementely haphazardly or bluntly, or without giving the project the necessary love, Social engagement can backfire and create bad publicity at large scale.
  • High costs as processes, team structures and infrastructure need to be adapted, and are likely to be in flux for a longer time.
  • Lots of snake oil out there. Proceed with care.

Resources, key players, links

  • There are too many players, agencies, platforms to name here.
  • Facebook’s own business backgrounders are quite useful.
  • Otherwise, check what’s already out there in terms of networks and tools.


To learn more, read what this series is all about and see all articles of Tectonic Shifts.

02 Sep


Tectonic Shifts #01: The Internet of Things (IoT)

September 2, 2014 | By |


Tectonic Shifts is a series of articles on the mega trends that will shape our digital future for years (if not decades) to come.

tl;dr (Executive Summary)

What happens when you connect everything to the internet? The umbrella term Internet of Things (IoT) describes a wide range of technologies and applications ranging from sensor-packed, connected homes (Smart Home) to Wearables (connected fitness bands, smart watches) to networked factories or logistics centers (M2M, or machine-to-machine communications). The field is split between consumer-focused products on one hand and large-scale industrial applications on the other. While the estimates about market sizes and impact differ dramatically, everyone agrees that it’s huge, and growing fast. No matter which industry your company is in, this is not a topic to be ignored.


The exact estimates on the size of the market differ dramatically depending on who does the estimation and on how the market is defined. The one thing all parties agree on is that the market volume and impact are huge, fast growing and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg yet.


Some of the ball park figures often quoted in the industry and their sources:

  • USD 14.4 trillion value created between 2013 and 2022 (Cisco)
  • From 2 billion connected objects in 2006 to 200 billion by 2020 (Intel)
  • IoT market USD 7.1 trillion by 2020 (IDC)
  • More than 50 billion connected devices by 2020 (Ericsson)
  • “it will dwarf any other market” (Freescale & ARM)
  • “potential economic impact of the Internet of Things to be $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion per year by 2025” (McKinsey)

What does this mean for society & industries?

For the industries involved – which might very well be almost all industries to some degree – the growing role of the IoT means

  • large potential for innovation
  • access to new data-driven business models as new services can be built around user data and responsive devices
  • the software side of hardware and consumer devices becomes more relevant as hardware and software merge into new services and products


For the society at large, a utopian view of the IoT would assume…

  • a more responsive environment;
  • empowering technologies like connected systems and tools to allow seniors to live autonomously longer;
  • increasingly computer/robot driven economic growth;


A more dystopian view would instead assume…

  • large-scale security issues due to increasingly networked devices without sufficient emphasis on security and safety;
  • a control (rather than empowering) infrastructure controlled by large conglomerates or governments that fosters compliance and consumption over citizen participation;
  • ubiquitous surveillance through connected devices that spy on their users;


In other words, privacy and participation become a salient design and product issue.

Which industries are expected to be most strongly affected?

The IoT and its implications on the availability of data from ubiquitous sensors have impact across most industries. Most directly impacted:

  • design and product development companies since new categories of products become possible;
  • manufacturing and logistics companies (from automotive and aerospace to cargo transport firms) as sensors allow for real-time tracking and predictive maintenance of factories, production lines and logistics networks;
  • consumer electronics companies as the internet and connectedness becomes a default for consumer devices;

Risks & opportunities


  • privacy and security implications are key concerns in connected, data-intense services and products;
  • standards wars and incompatibility between proprietary solutions;
  • data ownership can be tricky;



  • new business models and product categories;
  • products and services aren’t “done” when they’re shipped, as the connection and customer relationship stays relevant over time (software updates, etc.)
  • potential cost savings in industrial settings thanks to real-time information (predictive maintenance, real-time tracking, etc.)

Resources, key players, links

The big players are Cisco, Bosch, Intel, IBM. There is an unusually wide range of other large corporates, SMEs, startups and independent players. Really, the IoT is one of the few fields in which everyone dabbles.

A note

With ThingsCon, I co-founded a conference that focuses heavily on IoT and the new hardware industry. The next ThingsCon will take place in May 2015.


To learn more, read what this series is all about and see all articles of Tectonic Shifts.

28 Jul


Photos of our #paperwear workshop at London’s V&A

July 28, 2014 | By |

On Friday, the Connected team – Alex, Ana and I – were invited to run a workshop at London’s prestigious V&A museum as part of their Friday Late series. Needless to say I was thrilled – but more importantly, we’re all super happy with the results and feedback.



Being at a place as prestigious and as lovely as the V&A is fun in and of itself – but engaging there in an interactive workshop – and a discussion – about the future of technology and our relationship with wearable tech in particular is a whole different level. (More over on the Connected site.)

We have two sets of photos – a professional one as well as my own snapshops – and here are some impressions:


Poster for our workshop.

The reason we were at the V&A.

Setting up the workshop.

The calm before the storm.


Click here to see all the photos. Read More

09 Jul

By Demo Day 2014

July 9, 2014 | By |


Christoph Fahle kicking off demo day.


Pitch #1: Feel The Beat, a wearable metronome for learning to play music.

This is what the current Feel The Beat prototype looks like:


Pitch #2: BeaconInside, a solar-powered indoor Bluetooth Low Energy beacon for indoor location based services.


Pitch #3: Get Track ID, low cost music identification hardware for clubs.


Pitch #4: EasyCharge, a simple to install, ceiling mounted charging point for electric vehicles.


Pitch #5: Wotch, a strap to add smart watch functionality to your traditional watch.


Pitch #6: Scoutee, a device to measure the speed of your baseball pitch.


Pitch #7: The Basslet is a wristband that lets you feel the bass of music.


Pitch #8: Prepaid Power, open source, decentralized electricity supply.


Pitch #9: Superclock, a connected clock that displays when your subway will leave the station.


Pitch #10: Coolar, an add-on to fridges that turns heat into cold through evaporation and Silica gel to save energy


A complete list of all the teams: